The Indian Armed Forces would be requiring more than 500 aviation assets to sustain and bolster their capabilities. These include combat, surveillance and transport aircraft, light utility helicopters, attack helicopters, heavy-lift helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles including combat aerial vehicles. An estimate of the cost of the above with requisite support systems is about USD 60-70 Billion. In the last two decades, India has spent over USD 48 Billion on importing major air warfare assets. Indian military aviation industry with indigenous content stuck at around the 15% mark mainly due to DRDO and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
The need fo the hour is to have policy decisions to infuse funds and revitalize and redefine the role and accountability of DRDO, Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) need to be taken now so that results start showing by 2022-2024. Expansion of scale with greater visibility can assist the industry to cut production costs and lead to economies of scale. Alongside, providing a level-playing field to the private sector and hand-holding for initial orders will assist in creating an ecosystem that will pay long-term dividend. Practically, it is a make or break period for 'Make in India' in the military aviation sector.